Although most of the attention of the European institutions has been gradually monopolised by COVID-19 in March, the new European Commission delivered on the promises made in the European Green Deal for its first 100 first days in office. The implementation of the European Green deal is being rolled out as planned and, aside from a few dissident opinions, the EU is not losing its environmental focus or ambition.
March started out with the publication of a proposal for a Regulation on a European Climate Law, setting a mandatory goal to become climate neutral by 2050. The European Commission then communicated on an industrial strategy, an SME strategy and a new Circular Economy Action Plan. These policies are dependent on one another to succeed. Climate action and the circular economy will not succeed without special attention to their social and economic impact and without providing a dimension of coordinated and global efforts.
Here are key elements identified in those publications:
- The European Climate Law makes the transition towards climate neutrality by 2050 irreversible
To achieve the objective of becoming climate neutral by 2050, the European Commission plans to review all policies, including the 2030 target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which will increase from 40% to 50-55% (from 1990 levels) depending on the results of the impact assessment, to be published in September. Laying an objective for 2050 and providing the pathway to achieve climate neutrality increases the predictability of climate policies and should help companies to prepare and transition towards a climate neutral economy.
- The sustainable product policy framework in the Circular Economy Action Plan will make products fit for a climate-neutral, resource-efficient and circular economy
Commissioner Sinkevičius summarised the ambition of the sustainable product policy framework by saying, “Green products must become the norm.” The actions include widening the eco-design directive to more products (so far limited to energy related products) and introducing mandatory requirements for products placed on the EU market to facilitate their repairability and recyclability. The actions also include requirements linked to environmental and social aspects along the value chain.
- The European Commission considers establishing sustainability principles
Sustainability principles would make existing and future product regulation more coherent. The principles will cover the increase of durability, reusability, upgradability and reparability, will address the presence of hazardous chemicals in products and increase their energy and resource efficiency. The principles will also cover topics such as the reduction of carbon and environmental footprints and restricting single use products. The Commission will also establish a common European Dataspace for Smart Circular Applications with data on value chains and product information.
- The Circular Economy Action Plan will further empower consumers by ensuring they receive trustworthy and relevent information on products
Information on products will need to be available at the point of sale, and will include the lifespan of the product, the availability of repair services, spare parts and repair manuals. This information will provide a ‘right to repair’ to the consumers.
- The Commission will support a ‘Public Buyers for Climate and Environment’ initiative
The Commission will propose mandatory green public procurement criteria and targets and encourage public buyers to take part in a ‘Public Buyers for Climate and Environment’ initiative. Efforts will also continue in capacity building for public buyers and the dissemination of good practice.
- The Circular Economy Action Plan also tackles circularity in production processes
The Commission will facilitate industrial symbiosis by developing an industry-led reporting and certification system. It will support a sustainable and circular bio-based sector with the implementation of a Bioeconomy Action Plan and promote digital tracking, tracing and mapping of resources.
The shift to a circular economy of production processes outside the EU could be supported by circular economy objectives in Free Trade Agreements, partnerships with other countries or through global agreements on plastics and a global circular economy alliance.
- There will be a focus on resource-intensive sectors
Like in the previous action plan on circular economy, high resource-intensive sectors will be in focus. The 2020 action plan has identified seven focus sectors:
- Electronics and ICT
- Batteries and vehicles
- Construction and buildings
- Food, water and nutrients
These focus sectors will have to comply with new mandatory requirements to be allowed in the EU market. Actions are identified through their whole value chain, such as addressing the issue of unintentional release of microplastics during the washing of textiles, driving the design for re-use and recyclability of packaging, achieving high levels of separate collection of textile waste and encouraging water reuse in agriculture.
amfori offers services for members to improve the environmental footprint of their supply chain through amfori BEPI, with tools and training relevant for all sectors.
Our experts from the Advocacy team are monitoring legislative developments to help our members stay informed on the developments of the European Green Deal and prepare to transition towards a more sustainable economy. Keep an eye on our website for further updates.